Figuratively speaking, the most intense sports fans are known to live and die with the successes and failures of their respective favorite teams. However, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs — Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies — would like to give one die-hard fan a chance to live and literally die with the home team.
What does that mean exactly?
Well, the IronPigs will give their fans the opportunity to write a 200-word essay on what his or her ideal funeral would be. All entries must be turned in by July 31, and then, on Aug. 20, when the IronPigs will be hosting "Celebration of Life” night at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, PA, the person judged to have written the best essay will actually win a free funeral courtesy of the Reichel Funeral Home and Northampton Memorial Co.
It's the real deal, folks. No expense will be spared. In fact, according to the team's press release, the Reichel funeral package will include a casket, funeral direction, body removal, embalming or cremation (I think you can decide later), hearse and facility for the funeral services, and a wake or viewing. Northhampton Memorial will throw in a $1,500 headstone and The Morning Call adds that Richmar Florist had promised a $300 casket display.
From what I can tell, there are only two catches involved: The first, you have to live until Aug. 20. The other, you have to attend the game. Failure to do one or the other will result in disqualification.
Here's more from IronPigs general manager Kurt Landes:
“The best fans in Minor League Baseball deserve the opportunity to win a once-in-a-lifetime giveaway. Unquestionably, this is the most highly-coveted ‘out-of-the-box’ promotion in IronPigs history.”
That covers a lot of ground. In fact, the IronPigs made news just last season with their foam finger promotion that was designed to encourage prostate exams. Earlier in the season, they also became the first team to install a urine-powered video game system into their stadium.
"What's next is what we do," IronPigs spokesman Jon Schaeffer said. "When you have urinal games in your facility, there are no bad ideas."
It's also not the first time Kurt Landes has used the funeral promotion as a general manager. Back in 2003 when he worked for the Hagerstown Suns, he used the same promotion with the same rules and drew 2,000 essays, which was more than the team was drawing on average at the time.
I'd say that qualifies as a success in the wacky world of minor league baseball promotions, so why not try it out at a higher level with a larger fanbase and see how it works out. I know I'll be dying to see the results.